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Holy Ghost Prep’s Hart wins PIAA Boys Golf crown

YORK >> The second round of the PIAA Class AAA boys golf championships got underway Tuesday morning at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York, PA.

By day’s end, a new champion was crowned as Holy Ghost Prep junior Liam Hart came storming back with an even-par 71 (1-over 143 for the two-day tournament) to claim the title by a stroke over Franklin Regional’s Palmer Jackson and Peters Township’s Hunter Bruce.

In the early going, Hart’s memorable finish was very much in question. He opened his round with a bogey on No. 1, but then rallied with a bogey-free run — featuring three birdies — over the next 12 holes before stumbling with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15.

Heritage Hills has proven to be a perfect blend for the state championship. The course doesn’t demand length off the tee, but rather forces players to land safely in fairways and always be considerate of the shot that lies ahead.

That seemingly played right into Hart’s game the past couple of days.

“I try not to ever get too conservative or too aggressive either,” Hart was saying following day one of the District One Championships a couple weeks ago. “I try and keep my game right in the middle. That’s gotten me this far — hit fairways, hit greens, play smart.”

For the tournament, Hart finished up with six birdies and seven bogeys. Both days, he birdied No. 7 — a 513-yard Par 5 that plays straight off the tee.

Right in tow behind Hart and the top three, Central Catholic’s Jimmy Myers finished fourth at 4-over; that after holding the opening round lead at 1-under entering Tuesday.

Unionville’s Connor Bennick putts on the 11th green last Tuesday during the Ches-Mont golf championship. (Pete Bannan – DFM)

Behind him, Unionville’s Connor Bennink, Exeter’s Alex Seelig, Central Catholic’s Neal Shipley and Central York’s Joe Parrini all finished up at 4-over for the tournament.

Bennink was effective with his irons throughout his round, which kept him out of trouble.

“(They) were my strength and saved me if I didn’t hit the best drive,” he said. “I hung in there mentally and really stayed patient and avoided big mistakes.”

After opening up with a 4-over 75 on the opening round, Bennink closed out his trip to states with a 2-over. His second round featured three birdies and five bogeys. Seelig finished 1-over Tuesday with a pair of birdies, a bogey and an unfortunate double bogey on No. 8.

Spring-Ford’s Ben Pochet and Owen J. Roberts’ Ward McHenry both had mirrored one another’s scores both days. Pochet, the Eastern Regional runner-up posted four bogeys and just one birdie for a 3-over 74 while McHenry had five bogeys and two birdies on the round to finish tied with Pochet for 10th overall.

Pope John Paul II’s J.T. Spina, who finished tied for third overall at states last season, finished tied for 16th along with Norristown’s Caleb Ryan.

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Elsewhere from District One, Neshaminy’s Greg DeLuca took 22nd overall with a 14-over finish while William Tennent’s Colin Walsh, Conestoga’s Morgan Lofland and Norristown’s Josh Ryan were all tied for 23rd at 15-over. Central Bucks South’s Kevin Anthony took 34th place at 24-over.

Day Three of the state tournament gets underway Wednesday as team play begins. Unionville will be represented by Richie Kline, Connor and Will Bennink, Jake McCloskey and Nick Gianelos.

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